the tool page

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ARTICLES

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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Spin

Date: January, 2002

Transcribed by
K. (spiral.out@deadohiosky.net)


  page: 38
 title: Tool - October 4, 2001 - Pepsi Arena, Albany, New York
author: Pat Blashill

It took only about ten minutes for this concert to reach peak 
intensity. Soon after Tool launched the esoteric roar 
of “Stinkfist,” just as the puppet dude on the video screens 
above the stage blurred into a hyperspeed conniption, singer 
Maynard James Keenan began to stop and scream like an 
unjolly giant, and the crowd screamed right back. When the 
neck-snapping guitars suddenly fell away, revealing the rattle 
of drummer Danny Carey’s distorted tabla, the audience 
screamed even louder. Tool fans do love their tabla breaks.

Despite Tool’s reputation for theatricality, the videos were 
only the tip-off that this was, indeed, an arena rock show. 
Like Radiohead and precious few other massive bands, Tool’s 
idea of live pyrotechnics consists almost solely of standing 
there and playin’ their songs real good. But unlike 
Radiohead, Tool aren’t preoccupied with transcendence, 
preferring to stay down on this dirty plane. Songs like the 
vaguely Asian “Forty-Six & 2” and the convoluted “Schism” 
grind and swell for ages, and when the release finally comes, 
it’s like a Hitchcock climax: bloody and inescapable. Epic 
dirges like “The Patient” and “Reflection” are dense and 
almost form free. The thrill of a Tool show is that even the 
most die-hard fan in the room doesn’t really know what the 
band is gonna do next. From the cheap seats in Albany, Tool 
themselves seemed as inscrutable as their metallic jams. 
Keenan stuck to the shadows for the entire show, making it 
difficult to determine if he was, as is often said, “charismatic” 
and “in drag,” but his lack of presence didn’t seem to 
dampen the enthusiasm of the fans, who were clearly won 
over by the music’s breadth and force.

The only decisive physical gesture Tool engaged in all night 
was a group hug, stage center, just after playing their last 
song, “Lateralus.” Putting this intimate band ritual on display 
made a certain amount of sense within the context of the 
band’s music – just as the video screens displayed images of 
spinal columns and gooey digestive organs, Tool long to 
reveal everything that’s normally hidden from sight, from the 
grotesque to the sentimental. It’s a tactic they even turn on 
their own fans. The show’s most stunning moment came at 
the end of “Reflection,” when guitarist Adam Jones drew a few 
funereal chords into a beautiful two-minute elegy and the 
moshing masses immediately fell silent. Tool are a metal 
band unlike any other because they dare to ask their 
audience to stop breaking shit, take a breath, and look 
inside themselves.


Posted to t.d.n: 04/14/02 22:15:37